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Western Australia / Australia · 2010   tumbling star

  

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   Two months were never gonna be enough time for this behemoth of a country, but it was what we had and we did what we had to do with what we had. Most of all, I will always remember Australia as the place where my first love first cracked. Back then, back there, my torment dwarfed the land and could not be explained by a 23-year-old child, but the notion has sobered up by now to be plain fact, and no bitter, harsh, sad, or resentful aftertaste lingers. That love was killed by the indifferent tides of time and change, so how could I hold it against you Australia, if I can’t even hold it against the universe? Speaking of which, I wonder if there are others like you in the universe – too big to be an island, but too islandish not to be one. Then again, I guess Africa, Eurasia and the Americas are also just a bunch of humongous, weirdly shaped islands. Anyways, I’m digressing mate. Back to Australia, a continent full of deadly animals that is just a continent when you are there, and where the sounds of those fluffy Koalas are a lot more ursine that a stranger would expect. My emotional narrative of the grand land remained untainted, as it does with the benefit of abandoning the bad in that fog of memories, and rescuing the good from it. What remains is what the eyes shared so generously with the heart – those freehand landscape-designs Wind had willed with his erratic path, and those cityscape-designs man had annexed. What is left behind is what the heart dictated the eyes when they were shut: the sight of thrown up love.

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a glimpse

 
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Geraldton / Australia · 2010   sand riders

Evening fell through the trees and the last rays were the longest.

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Brisbane / Australia · 2009   long rays   

The Great Ocean Road was crammed with views like this.

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Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road / Australia · 2009   too much view to move on lightly 

 

 

 

 

 

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places / stories

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East Coast

 

Surfers Paradise / Australia · 2009   surfing on sunshine

The East Coast felt like it wanted to be the cliché it was – the surfer blokes were abundant wherever the jellyfish weren’t; skin cancer clinics proliferated in the ozone hole of the Gold Coast; and the sun was heavy but easy, and the mood light on those laid-back sunbeds.

 

Queensland / Australia · 2009   urban waterfall

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Queensland / Australia · 2009   skinny cows

 

Great Barrier Reef / Australia · 2009   underwater skins

Everybody looked like caricatures of themselves in those wetsuits – communal underwater skins that were passed on from one tourist to the next. I passed. I wanted to be in my skin and my skin only to immerse myself fully in the crystal realm that is the Great Barrier Reef. Armed with nothing but a snorkel and the spirit of a frontiersman, I set out. But I wasn’t much of a frontiersman when I felt that sting across my chest not too long after hopping into that Southern Pacific bathtub. I couldn't help remembering that there was a reason they had urged us to wear wetsuits during jellyfish season. Suddenly, I felt pretty dizzy, and I didn’t know whether it was the fear of death or Death himself closing in on me. They were calling us back to the platform for a lunchbreak, and I was happy to get out of the water even though my appetite was nullified. From one moment to the next, I heard my life’s countdown ticking a lot louder and faster. Was my remaining time measured in minutes rather than years? Or had I merely brushed a coral? The pain, itch, and redness were of more psychological than physiological discomfort, which was comforting. In the end, I survived, gloriously, whatever little thing had cast that long, dark shadow upon my fragile mind. During the boat ride back, I had time to unpack my underwater impressions prior to the not-so-near-death experience: the fact that the reef wasn’t as colorful as others and downright dead in some parts; and the notion that our presence might have been our very contribution to its demise; and I remembered that droll fish. They‘d introduced it on the video loop on the way in and I’d actually made its acquaintance. Propelled by some courage much bigger than its size, the little fella would shoot towards your face like a torpedo, only to abort the attack right before impact. Fun.

Those tour operators in Hervey Bay had laughed at our baby SUV, literally and mercilessly, when we told them we’d take it to Fraser Island. And we had laughed off their laughter and done it anyway. It took a winch and about twenty people to get us out of that powder sand, 30 minutes into our first trip on day one. So it wasn’t without reason that my friends opted for a tour on day two to harvest the main sites of the island alongside everyone else. With everbody gone, I had the rest of the sandbox all to myself, and the many trees that had set up camp right on the beach seemed excited enough to see me.

 

Fraser Island / Australia · 2009   teenage tree

The beach was heavily frequented by miniature crabs, and thousands upon thousands of them would come together in black patches all along the shore. A lot shier than their numbers let on, they were always one step faster at digging into the wet sand than I was at approaching them. Within seconds, an entire patch would vanish off the face of the earth to live an unknown underlife until their confidence in the beach order was restored.

 

Fraser Island / Australia · 2009   holy crab

I circled back through a forest, but not before happening across a sign that read DANGER in fat, red letters to warn me of Dingoes. With those letters etched into the back of my head, I stepped on it with my flimsy flip flops flapping, only to run straight into a spider web – not a cobweb – that was large enough to span across the entire width of the path. In a motion-mix of slapping, picking and tearing, I tried to remove the sticky silk with so much haste that I knocked my sunglasses right off my face, and it took me awhile to find them. Some days later, I left them on top of our car and didn’t notice until I saw them falling off in the rearview mirror. Miraculously, they landed right in the middle of the highway lane and survived several cars and a huge truck passing over them. Now they are at the bottom of Sydney harbor thanks to a suicidal race boat pilot.

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Sydney / Australia · 2009   skyline by the sea

 

Bondi Beach / Australia · 2009   crescent sandbox

We switched couples in Sydney. First it had been her, him, and me, and me sleeping in the car in every suburb between Cairns and Sydney, and then it was her, me, and her, and starry nights in tents along the Great Ocean Road and West Coast. I liked Sydney, like one likes a city by the sea.

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South Coast

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The Great Ocean Road was a bit of a drag. We had to stop and admire it at every turn.

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Great Ocean Road / Australia · 2009   every bend a view

Those rock formations were done masterfully.

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Great Ocean Road / Australia · 2009   sand and stone

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Sea and wind, hand in hand, chipping away at rock and time.

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Great Ocean Road / Australia · 2009   the hole made it whole

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South Australia / Australia · 2009   wild shore

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West Coast

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Pinnacles Desert / Australia · 2010   renegade rocks

They called it the West Coast, but really it was the West Universe. Its every place seemed misplaced in this here world, and much better suited for exoplanets elsewhere. Where and why on Earth would city folk expect pink lagoons and pinnacle deserts, seashell beaches and stromatolites?

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Hutt Lagoon / Australia · 2010   nature playing with watercolors

Stromatolites, Hamelin Pool / Australia · 2010   life at its oldest

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Western Australia / Australia · 2010   orange planet

 

Shell Beach / Australia · 2010   soft shells

 

Geraldton / Australia · 2010   the wind will wash it away

It’s hard to be mad at the person who fed the wild dolphins one day in the 1960s when they are so pretty, coming back for more every day since.

 

Monkey Mia / Australia · 2010   dolphin mate

 

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